Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Luli's Cupcakes - St. Augustine, Florida

I had to take another hiatus from my cupcake explorations. A trip to Bonnaroo took a bit out of me. I did have some cupcakes from Sprinkles in LA though, which helped with my cupcake withdrawals.

This past weekend I went on an impromptu trip to St. Augustine. I hadn't been to St. Augustine wince I was young, probably in elementary school, so I was very excited to go.

On the first day I was walking around checking out some of the local shops when I just happened to pass by Luli's Cupcakes. I knew I had to check it out!

Luli's Cupcakes story is just as serendipitous as my find:
"LuLi’s Cupcakes began when  owner, Janeen Damiano Sara, took an anniversary trip to San Francisco and fell in love with the array of local bakeries. The love became an idea, which quickly evolved into reality when Janeen compiled a collection of delicious recipes and opened up her store front in Uptown Saint Augustine. What began as a hopeful business dream, in seven years, has grown to encompass baked goods, special events, cafĂ© eats, and boutique fashions! As much as we have grown over the years, we have maintained the belief that the finest ingredients, utmost quality and superior customer service at an affordable price is what makes a business great. We hope that you will indulge and share in our belief that cupcakes fix everything! Because, life is too short to do anything less than eat dessert first!"

I walked in and found an array of flavors in the display case. Apparently they have 17 different flavors daily along with 2 monthly specials. They also have gluten free and vegan options. Lucky for me one of those treats was a red velvet!

Red Velvet with Buttercream Frosting
The cupcake itself was light and moist. It had a great amount of chocolate flavor, almost perfect. The frosting, however, was a plain vanilla buttercream frosting. I enjoying the pecans on top. I was missing the traditional cream cheese pairing, but it was a great cupcake nonetheless.

This trip just re-invigorated me to restart my search for the perfect red velvet cupcake. I've found some other places in the Tampa area that I intend on investigating.

Onward to find the perfect red velvet cupcake!

Price $2.95/each
Cake: moist, airy, near-perfect chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, vanilla buttercream
Decorations: simple pecans
Overall Rating: 7/10
Website: Luli's Cupcakes

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cupcakes and Cocktails - Epicurean Hotel

I know it's been a few weeks since my last post. Things have been quite hectic in my life lately. I was in the middle of searching for a new apartment, not an easy task with my budget. Luckily, I have found a place but now I have to actually move. This means taking the time to pack up my apartment which has seemed to double in the amount of things inside.

Either way, I'm back on the hunt. While searching for places to find a decent red velvet cupcake, I came upon an event called Cupcakes and Cocktails at the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. While the event cost $50, after looking at the menu I knew I had to attend.

Menu for event:
Red Wine Red Velvet with Red Wine Cream Cheese Frosting
Mojito with Lime Buttercream Frosting
Hummingbird with Cream Cheese Frosting and roasted pineapple flowers

The description of the event hooked me in even more, "Join Chef Beth, as she hosts another Cupcake Cocktail hour, and shows you how to make three different spring influenced cupcakes paired with cocktails. You will be getting to take home 6 cupcakes and the recipes to make them at home. Each cupcake will be paired with a matching cocktail".

Now I know everyone knows I'm obsessed with cupcakes (and why wouldn't I be, they're everything good in the world contained in one small, hand-held package) but I do enjoy a good cocktail. I have been interested in pairing events for a while and am happy to have found something that pairs two of my favorite things!

When I got to the event I was surprised to learn that the baker, Beth Lukens from Cloud 9 Confections, would only be demonstrating one cupcakes. I also was disappointed to hear we would not be tasting the cupcakes along with the cocktail pairings.

Me with Chef Beth Lukens from Cloud 9 Confections
The event basically went like this: we were served cocktails while the baker demonstrated the most complicated cupcake recipe. We were given the recipe for the other cupcakes though. That was a plus.

After the demonstration, and during the third round of drinks, we were called down to decorate our six cupcakes. I thought this was a bad idea considering we had two pretty strong drinks in us, having us decorate our own cupcakes may not have been the best idea. It turned out to be pretty fun though. Apparently everyone did really well with the decorating, so I guess the alcohol didn't affect us that much!

Decorating my red wine red velvet
After decorating my cupcakes, I hung behind to finish my third cocktail as well as to speak to the baker about some questions I had about the red wine red velvet recipe. In the recipe, it called for a chocolate cake box mix. This confused me considering that there are plenty of boxed red velvet mix available as well as recipes online to make either recipe from scratch. She indicated it would be better to use the red velvet box mix or even better to make it from scratch. She was trying to make the cupcakes easy and accessible for most people to make. I understand and appreciate this considering some of the ingredients to make cupcakes can be better expensive (i.e. vanilla beans).

Chef Beth was really nice (she let me take home six more red wine red velvet cupcakes) and mentioned various types of parties she was able to do, including a Cupcake Wars themed party. I guess I know what I'm doing for my next get together!

My finished products
Overall the event was a hit. I had my hesitations and high expectations because of the location and the price, but the hesitations were overall not necessary and the expectations were exceeded. I'm looking forward to her next Cupcakes and Cocktails course.

Info on Cloud 9 Confections:
Made to Order Bakery
Telephone: 813.833.8002
Email: bethlukens@aol.com
Web: Cloud 9 Confections
Visit Cloud 9 Confections on Facebook.